Sunday, 1 July 2012

Sharia: what does it say about women?

LATER [25 Nov 14]: "Women are not equal to men": Turkish PM.  They must be mothers. That's in Islam.
LATER [10 Jul 13]: What does the Koran say about Women  [Internet archive]
This is the second in the series “Sharia: what does it say about…”.  The first is "Sharia: what does it say about non-Muslims".  The source of all these topics is Umdat al-Salik ("The Reliance of the Traveler"), Amana Publications, Cairo, 1994. This is the classic manual of Islamic jurisprudence, authorised by Islam's oldest University, Al Azhar, in Cairo.
The topics are not in order of importance or alphabetically. They follow the index in the source text, the Umdat al-Salik and all references are to that edition.
I have included all important topics, and at the end record those which are deemed positive for women.
Women have to sit at the back of a mosque
“When there are men, boys and women present, the men form the front row or rows, then the boys, and then the women.” (f12.32)
Women may not wear wigs
Allah curse women who wear false hair, or arrange it for others….” (p59.0)
Women must be genitally mutilated
“Circumcision is obligatory for both men and women.” (e4.3)
Women may not institute divorce:
“Divorce is valid from any:
(a) husband
(b) who is sane
(c) has reached puberty
(d) and who voluntarily effects it" (n1.1)

 Comment: for the travails of Muslim women in Australia seeking divorce in Sharia courts, see “Divorce in Oz, Muslim Style
Women may not leave home without husband’s permission
“Remain in your homes and do not display your beauty as women did in the pre-Islamic period of ignorance (Koran 33.33)” (p42.2(4))
Comment: by Khalil Nahlawi says that “it is a condition for the permissibility of her going out that she take no measures to enhance her beauty, and that her figure is concealed or altered to a form unlikely to draw looks from men or attract them.”
“A woman may not leave the city without her husband or a member of her unmarriageable kin accompanying her…” (m10.3)
“It is not lawful for a wife to leave the house except by the permission of her husband…” (m10.12(2))
Women may not lead men in prayer:
“It is not permissible to follow an imam who is… a woman leading men…” (f12.27)
Comment: of course Islam is not unique in this prohibition, which holds for various strands of Christianity, and some other religions, as well.
Pretty or young women may not go to a mosque:
“It is offensive for an attractive or young woman to come to the mosque to pray, though not offensive for women who are not young or attractive when this I unlikely to cause temptation.” (f12.4)
Women not entitled to husband’s support if they do not allow sex at any time:
‘The husband is only obliged to support his wife when she gives herself to him or offers to, meaning that she allows him full enjoyment of her person and does not refuse him sex at any time of the night or day.” (m11.9)
Indemnity for death of a woman is half that of a man:
“The indemnity for the death or injury of a woman is one-half the indemnity paid for a man.” (o4.9)
Women may not take leadership positions in Islam:
“… the leadership of a woman being invalid because of the rigorously authenticated hadith…” (o25.3 (d))
Men should not listen to women:
“Men are already destroyed when they obey women.” (p28.1)
A husband may beat his wife if she is “rebellious”:
“If she commits rebelliousness, he keeps from sleeping with her without words, and may hit her, but not in a way that injures her, meaning he may not break bones, wound her or cause blood to flow.” (m10.12)
Women must allow sex to their husbands whenever they wish:
“It is obligatory for a woman to let her husband have sex with her immediately when he asks her…” (m5.1)
Women must be veiled:
“A majority of scholars have been recorded as holding that it is unlawful for women to leave the house with faces unveiled, whether or not there is likelihood of temptation. (m2.3)
Girls may be married off by their fathers:
“When the father or father’s father see that the best advantage is to be served by marrying a young boy (or girl) to someone, they may do so, though they are not entitled to marry the child to someone with a physical defect.” (m4.4)
Comment: see my post on Child Brides in Islam.
Muslim women may not marry a non-Muslim man:
“It is not lawful or valid for a Muslim woman to be married to anyone besides a Muslim. (m6.7(5))
(An example of this in action in Sudan)
Are the any positives in Islamic Sharia  for women?
A few:
Men should protect women if they are being attacked (o7.2)
Women may wear gold jewellery (f17.11)
Women may alert an imam to an error of omission by clapping her hands. (f9.4)
Wives should get sex every four nights, if she wants it (m5.2)
A husband should treat his wife well (m10.1)
A husband should provide for his wife (m11)
A woman is not punished for fornication if she is pregnant (o12.5-6). 
Comment: Note, however, that she is to be punished after she gives birth and the provision sets out details of the type and age of whip to be used…